In 1878 George and Richard Cadbury moved their successful chocolate factory from its location in the centre of Birmingham, that they had outgrown, to the countryside and fresh air of what was to become Bournville.
The new site was 14½ acres of greenfield located between the villages of Stirchley, Kings Norton and Selly Oak, about four miles out of the bustling city centre.
As well as providing plenty of space to expand and develop, Bournville’s location provided established transport links through the railway and canal networks that already existed in the area.
It was the aim of the Cadbury brothers to build a village that would provide better, safer, and healthier lives for those who lived there. This would be established through larger and cleaner housing, outdoor areas, and greens spaces for exercise. The shared vision for the village planned to improve the lives of those living and working in Birmingham.
In 1893, they bought 120 acres of land close to the factory and planned a model village which would ‘alleviate the evils of modern, more cramped living conditions.’ However, following the death of Richard Cadbury in 1899, it was George who continued and saw through the project.
Young and enthusiastic architect, William Alexander Harvey was chosen to carry out George Cadbury’s vision. Inspired by the Arts and Craft movement, Bournville was built to provide safe, suitable, and affordable housing for those who wanted to live there. Large gardens were an important part of the new houses, with ¼ of each estate being given over to outdoor spaces.
Those living in Bournville were encouraged to eat healthily and get exercise by growing their own fruit and vegetables, with every garden containing a fruit tree. Parks and recreation areas were incorporated into Bournville, encouraging swimming, walking, and sports.
The designs of Bournville became a blueprint for many other model villages in Britain and many have credited the village with laying the foundations for the development of garden cities and introducing the benefits of open space into modern town planning.